Swimmingly fine

Let’s be crystal clear –the water at the Sea Lido is safe for swimmers.

A spokesperson from theDepartment of Primary Industries said the Urunga Lagoon is regularly monitored by Soil Conservation Services as part of the remediation process with results provided to EPA and NSW Health as soon as they are provided.

“Water quality testing shows that the water in the Sea Lido is safe for swimming …furthermoretesting has indicated that health of the lagoon has greatly improved since the remediation commenced.”

The clarification comes after media outlets in the region ran reports inferring arsenic may be in the water system.

One article stated: “The initial warning came from a resident who said they’d recently been found to have elevated arsenic levels in their blood, which they believe resulted from a summer of swimming in the lagoon.

“The contamination, if it exists, is likely to have come from the nearby site of a former processing plant for antimony, a toxic mineral used in batteries and as a flame retardant.”

In the early 70s, the Urunga sitewas a processing plant for antimony.

Abandoned in 1974, the site with its heavy metal tailings remained un-remediated until 2011 when ownership was transferred to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and became Crown land.

A remedial action plan was then developed with boots and machines on the ground since July last year, and, in JanuaryNSW Soil Conservation Service’sproject manager,Clayton Colmer said it was a relief to know that contaminants had now been stripped from the wetland and the arsenic-rich tailings contained.

TheBellingen Shire Courier-Sununderstandsthe NSW Department of Health was contacted afterone person made an inquiry regarding arsenic in their blood.

With no evidence to suggest a link, theDepartment of Primary Industries has asked instead, for the community to focus on the positives that have, and will continue to come,for the Seaboard’s waterways.

“Now that we are in the final stages of the project, the benefits are already being seen with the site and the wetlands looking healthier than they have been for many years,” a DPI spokesperson said.

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